The Invasion and Metastasis Research Group is interested in how cancer cells are able to dissociate from the primary tumour, invade the surrounding tissue and subsequently metastasise to distal sites.
Tissue invasion and migration require cancer cells to reorganise their actin cytoskeleton as well as adhere to and degrade the surrounding extracellular matrix. It is well established that cytoskeletal rearrangement, cell adhesion formation and turnover is regulated by Rho GTPases, Rho, Rac and Cdc42. PAKs are serine/threonine kinases that operate downstream of Rho GTPases to control cytoskeletal organisation and substratum adhesion. The PAK family can be sub-divided into two groups; Group 1 PAKs (1-3) and Group 2 PAKs (4-6) based on sequence homology and members of both groups are activated by growth factor signalling pathways. We use live cell imaging, biochemical and molecular approaches to investigate the role of PAK family kinases in cancer cell migration, adhesion and invasion.